Today is a very important day, lil' dude.
Today is your great-grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary ... Mama's maternal grandpa and grandma.
60 years ago, Grandpa was two weeks shy of his 25th birthday, and Grandma was just 17. Within six months, they would have their first baby. There are no wedding photos; they could not afford a photographer. Grandpa had returned to small, small midwestern town after fighting for the Army during WW II where he served in both France and Germany. He spent two months in the hospital after he was wounded by shrapnel. He received a Purple Heart for his commitment to his country.
Grandma had just graduated from high school a few months prior to their wedding day. She had grown up fast, managing her family's household as her mother, your great-great grandma, worked away from home during the week as a baker and cake decorator. Grandpa and Grandma married quietly, settled on a 160 acre farm where they live to this day. Then, what you know as your family all began ...
Between 1949 and 1966, Grandpa and Grandma had five kids, including your "GiGi", Mama's own Mama. Grandpa worked over-the-road construction for 40 years and Grandma stayed home, working to raise a family. She is proud to say today all her kids graduated from high school, and two from college. 2007 was a 'bumper crop' as Grandma called it, for great-grandbabies. You, born last, were the 4th baby born becoming #54 in our family.
I have never met a more proud, practical woman, lil' dude, than your great-grandma. I have learned so much by standing at her elbow and sitting on her lap. I am proud to say Grandma has helped make me the person I am today, she has influenced my growth, fueled my passions, and encouraged my dreams. One of Grandma's traits I admire most is her ability to put things in perspective. There is always a silver lining to every cloud, everything happens for a reason, feeling sorry for yourself gets you nowhere, and the good Lord only gives you as much as you can handle. I can close my eyes and hear her say those very words. It helps me keep my perspective.
And oh, the sweet memories I have of Grandpa too. He spoiled me like there was no tomorrow. He used to let me take a brand-new box of Lucky Charms and dump it into a mixing bowl until I found the prize. That was against Grandma's rules you know. He would let me spend the day with him watching him work in the barn or shed. As I arranged your nursery, I added pieces Grandpa made for me as a child. The rocking chair he made for Papa and Gigi's wedding. The toy box I got for Christmas when I was three. The shelf that hangs on the wall I got when I was 13, where I stored my Malibu Mist and Exclamation! perfumes. The tiny doll bench you sit on as you play ... all from Grandpa. All in perfect shape because I always wanted to take special care of the things Grandpa made for me. I am so glad I saved them for you, they all have his name and dates on them, too. We'll never forget.
In 60 years, lil' dude, you can imagine there were some tough times for Grandpa and Grandma, as you will learn as you get older. It's not to say you can't manage what life throws at you though, you will be tested. You will be angry. You will cry. You will get up off your knees, dust them off, and get about your business. This I know because the generations before you have. Grandpa has had some health issues over the last 10 years or so. Today, as he has for the past six years, he battles Parkinson's Disease, which robs him of his ability to control his body. It has made me sad to see this big, powerful man in my life lose a little bit of himself each day, each year, to the disease. But his eyes hold the same twinkle. He remembers the punch line to jokes even if it takes him 10 minutes. And faithfully by his side each day has been Grandma, her perseverance, her faith, her love pushing them on. Late this summer, Grandpa was admitted to a nursing home. No one knew if he would come home. Well, I take that back. Both he and Grandma knew he would go home again. Daddy and I took you to see him on a sunny Sunday afternoon, and there, in his tiny room, was the quilt off their bed, his old slippers, and a note on his dresser.
For the nurses/staff:
R. does not wear a part in his hair; please do not comb it with a part. Just comb it straight back.
It was a note from Grandma. After her heart was breaking that her husband of 60 years would not sleep in the same house as her, when she was scared of being alone, of just not knowing, she had remembered, she had known to leave that note. She knew Grandpa needed one less thing to be different as he struggled. She knew how he needed it to be, what he wanted, like no one else could.
I take you ...
to have and to hold,
from this day forward,
for better, for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
until death do us part.